Michael Morell

Former Deputy and Acting Director of the CIA and Author of the Best-Seller The Great War Of Our Time
  • Twice served as acting director of the CIA – longer than anyone in the history of the agency
  • Received the CIA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, for his role in the Bin Laden operation
  • Shares insights on current threats and key geopolitical challenges that keep top intelligence officials up at night

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One of the country’s most-respected national security experts, Michael Morell is the former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the author of the New York Times best-seller The Great War Of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism from al Qa’ida to ISIS. The agency’s second-in-command, he spent his entire career at the CIA and has been in the room with the nation’s major political players for more than a decade. He is the only official who was with both President Bush on September 11th and President Obama on May 1st, when Osama Bin Laden was brought to justice during a raid that Morell had been integral in planning. According to the Wall Street Journal, he had “been at the center of nearly every fight against al Qaeda and has seen the limits of U.S. intelligence,” and POLITICO called him the “Bob Gates of his generation.” He is a CBS News on-air contributor in intelligence and national security.

Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities, Inc. speakers bureau, Morell is an extraordinary speaker and an emotionally-moving storyteller. Audiences appreciate his insights on current events and the geopolitical challenges that keep one of the nation’s most legendary CIA leaders awake at night. He has been at the center of our nation’s fight against terrorism and the trends altering the international landscape, including the Arab Spring, the rise of China, and the growing cyber threat, and he can tailor his talk to regional-specific issues and audience interests. In high-impact presentations, Morell shares insider stories and navigates the complex and clandestine web of politics and security, helping organizations understand the business impact of and leadership behind these pivotal issues.

CIA Leadership. During his 33-year career at the CIA, Morell was known for his leadership. He managed an agency equivalent in complexity to a Fortune 500 firm, inspired peak performance, and mentored most of the agency’s senior leadership team. When Petraeus took over in 2011, it was Morell who shepherded the general into the role, and he twice served as acting director – longer than anyone in the history of the agency, leading the CIA when Leon Panetta was named Secretary of Defense and again following David Petraeus’ resignation.

Morell started at the bottom and worked his way up through the ranks. His first assignment was as an analyst covering international energy issues. He then worked on East Asia for 14 years. His senior assignments included two years as executive director, the CIA’s top administrator, and two years as director of intelligence, the agency’s chief analyst. He was also in charge of personally briefing President George W. Bush each morning on the latest from the intelligence community. Morell is currently a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He also served on President Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Telecommunications, which analyzed the Edward Snowden leaks.

Awards. Morell is the recipient of myriad awards, including a Presidential Rank Award for exceptional performance and the Distinguished Intelligence Medal – the CIA’s highest honor – for his role in the Bin Ladin operation. Senator Joe Lieberman called him, “one of the best intelligence officers our nation has ever had,” and Admiral Mike Mullen said he is the “best of the best.”

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Speaker Video

A Look into the CIA

Michael Morell on Terrorism and Intelligence

Michael Morell on Geopolitics

National Security and Global Hot Spots. There have never been as many national security issues on a president’s desk as there are today. In presentations, Michael Morell looks at the issues facing our nation and offers audiences a debrief on the most pertinent, including terrorism, China, Syria, Iran, North Korea, and cyber operations. He shares insights on current threats and the geopolitical challenges that keep one of the nation’s most legendary CIA leaders awake at night. In high-impact presentations, he navigates the complex web of national security issues while helping organizations understand their business impact. He also highlights the issues that directly affect organizations’ interests – cyber security, corporate espionage, and more.

The Golden Age of Intelligence. The intelligence community has never been more important to national security than it is today. It is simply not possible for the president and his national security team to understand the world and make the decisions necessary to protect the country without first-rate intelligence. However, the need for this intelligence also raises understandable concerns about privacy and civil liberties right here in the United States and its impact on U.S. businesses selling their products and services overseas. In presentations, Michael Morell shares insights on how we should think about the intelligence community and how it affects our lives, businesses, and jobs.

Individual Topic Focus: Looking at Issues like Terrorism, Cyber Security, the Middle East, Iran, or China. Michael Morell takes a deep dive into select national security issues chosen by his audience. With vast expertise and stories based on his 33-year career at CIA, he looks at topics like terrorism, cyber security, the Middle East, Syria, Iran, or China. This presentation can be tailored to address almost any issue of interest. Getting into the nitty-gritty details, he offers audiences a White House-caliber briefing on the issues they care about most. With a genuine enthusiasm and passion for solving our nation’s hardest geopolitical challenges, Morell advised six presidents and now takes the time to explain these issues robustly to audiences.

Leadership and the Secrets of Success. During his 33-year career at the CIA, Michael Morell was known for his leadership. He managed an agency equivalent in complexity to a top Fortune 500 firm, inspired peak performance, and mentored most of the agency’s current senior leadership team. When David Petraeus took over at the CIA in 2011, it was Morell who shepherded the general into the role, and he twice served as acting director – longer than anyone in the history of the agency. In this presentation, Morell shares insights about effective leadership in large organizations, weaving nail-biting stories from his career into the discussion. Having worked from the bottom of the CIA to the top, he also delivers his principles to live and work by, offering insights about climbing the corporate ladder, cutting through bureaucracy, and creating a meaningful and rewarding career.

Public Service: Why It’s Attractive and Meaningful. Michael Morell spent his entire career at the CIA, devoting his life to public service. In this presentation, he shares powerful and emotionally moving stories from his career and from his interactions with the country’s and the world’s top leaders.  He looks at why public service is meaningful and how to encourage more people to spend time in the public sector.

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